Venezuela bombs airstrip used for illegal drug trade

March 30th, 2008 - 2:08 pm ICT by admin  

Elorza (Venezuela), March 30 (IANS) Venezuelan army has destroyed a secret airstrip used for illegal drug trade in the state of Apure, some 45 km from here, Spain’s EFE news agency reported. The airstrip was located some 15 km from the Colombian border, Col Nestor Reverol, director of the National Antidrug Office (ONA), said in a statement Saturday.

The army has launched Operation Boquete I against drug traffickers in the country. Around 19 aircrafts and 600 soldiers are taking part in the operation.

Search dogs were put through a mock drug-detection operation before dropping the bombs on the airstrip.

The Venezuelan authorities have detected 157 secret landing strips in Apure state alone, of which 67 were already destroyed. The remaining 90 airstrips will be destroyed in the next five days. Similar actions will be taken in other states, the official said.

According to the statement, there are over 500 secret airstrips across the country used for transporting drugs - from Colombia to the border states of Apure, Amazonas and Zulia, and also to the northern states of Falcon and Guarico.

Venezuelan authorities have seized around eight tonnes of drugs so far this year. He said in the coming days a new radar will be installed, with a capability of covering more than 400 km, to keep a watch over the Venezuelan airspace and detect suspicious small planes.

Reverol said the drug traffickers after crossing the border between Venezuela and Colombia, bury the consignments alongside the secret airstrips, where it can stay hidden for days until it is flown out of the country.

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